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Overcoming cultural barriers to providing support to trafficking survivors

Research project exploring cultural insights and cultural barriers that may impact support for Albanian nationals

Evidence shows that people affected by modern slavery often face barriers to accessing the support they need, that arise from limited understanding among service providers of their respective cultures, language, beliefs, and gender norms.

A project, undertaken by the Bakhita Centre for Research on Slavery, Exploitation and Abuse at St Mary’s University Twickenham and Mary Ward Loreto, a charity dedicated to tackling human trafficking in and from Albania, will work to explore how cultural barriers may impact the identification and support of people affected by modern slavery.

The project will specifically focus on Albanian nationals as a case study, whilst using these insights to apply to other national and cultural groups where relevant, so that those affected by modern slavery can get the help they need to recover and rebuild their lives.

The research project will identify what cultural barriers currently exist in accessing services and explore examples of effective practice in overcoming these barriers. In doing so, the project seeks to offer a new model of cultural competency and compassionate care, suitable for supporting modern slavery survivors. The team aims to develop evidence-based principles for policymakers and practitioners on how to improve cultural understanding in providing support to survivors. Finally, the project aims to raise awareness of the role that cultural understanding and cultural competence can play in making support more effective.

The team will do this by engaging with professionals working in modern slavery, and survivors of modern slavery from Albania, including undertaking consultations with practitioners and policymakers, and mapping what provision is currently available to survivors of modern slavery. Following the completion of consultations, interviews and surveys, the research team will co-organise an event between researchers from the UK and practitioners and policymakers in Albania to share initial research findings, and to hear directly from professionals in Albania about their experiences in the sector. Their experience and ideas will be essential in providing insight into the evidence and recommendations provided.

To build a broader picture of potential cultural barriers that affect Albanian nationals, the study will also seek to include those who had unsuccessful asylum claims in the UK and were returned to Albania, to explore their experiences, and to assess if and how cultural misunderstandings could have impacted their cases.

The project is expected to have a positive impact on the lives of those affected by modern slavery by improving the quality of the support that people of all cultural backgrounds should have access to.

Research Team: Dr Carole Murphy, Dr Anta Brachou, and Eva Karra from the Bakhita Centre for Research on Slavery, Exploitation and Abuse, St Mary's University, Twickenham and Consultants, Professor Irena Papadopoulos and Dr Runa Lazzarino.

This research was funded by an open funding call on prevention of modern slavery. The Modern Slavery PEC is funded and actively supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.